Baltimore Orioles are just one game away from securing the American League East division title and their spot in the postseason playoffs after taking a nail-biting 5-2 victory over their nearest rivals Toronto Blue Jays.
The victory gave the Orioles a 12.5 game lead in the division as the magic number for a division title shrunk to just one. The Blue Jays return to Oriole Park tonight in the second game of the three-game series knowing anything less than a win will see their opponents crowned title winners.
Take The Title
In fairness to both sides, it is only a matter of time before the O’s take the title because effectively the home side need to lose all their remaining regular season fixtures and the Blue Jays need an unbeaten run to the end of September to overtake them.
Whether the win comes tonight or further down the line, the O’s have been the best team in the highly competitive AL East and deserve their first title since 1997.
The O’s 90th win of the season was based on solid work from both sides of the team.
Ryan Flaherty hit the decisive runs with a two-run fourth-inning homer while Wei-Yin Chen grabbed the game-winning decision with his 5 2/3 inning going for just two runs off nine hits.
Speaking to MLB.com, Chen said via an interpreter: “I allowed quite a few hits out there but I was trying to battle and get out of the inning without allowing too many runs. Fortunately I can do that with the help of my teammates. They made a lot of great plays.”
Where the Blue Jays' bats failed to convert their hits, the O’s line-up made no mistake, scoring consistently in the first four frames to take a 5-1 lead.
Bye Bye Yankees
Closer Zach Britton tied up the Blue Jays in the ninth to earn his 35th save of the season. The O’s victory officially knocked out New York Yankees from title contention – although that had happened in most peoples' minds long ago.
Flaherty explained to MLB.com Baltimore knew they had the capability to take the division title back in February when they were planning for the season.
If the O’s seal the title in front of their own fans either tonight or tomorrow against their closest rivals, the party will begin in style. And it has been 17 years in the making.